UAB Researchers Find New Path to Control Tumor Growth

NEW EVIDENCE by UAB researchers that specific electromagnetic fields can safely block

the proliferation of cancer cells and tumor

growth may help refine a new, targeted therapy

without any collateral damage.

Very low levels of amplitude-modulated

radiofrequency electromagnetic fields block

cancer-cell growth in a tumor- and tissue-spe-

cific fashion, says Boris Pasche, M.D., Ph.D.,

director of the UAB Division of Hematology

and Oncology. Dr. Pasche and a research team

led by Jacquelyn Zimmerman, a graduate stu-

dent in the UAB Medical Scientist Training

Program, conducted studies with cancer cells,

replicating the treatment conditions in patients

with cancer. The results were published in the

December 1, 2011, online edition of the British

Journal of Cancer.

The study provides the first laboratory evi-

dence of an effect observed in earlier clinical

studies in which cancer cells, exposed to elec-

tromagnetic fields emitted by custom-made

devices replicating patient-treatment condi-

tions, were found to be blocked by specific

modulation frequencies. The new study sug-

gests that fine-tuning field frequency targets

the effect to specific tissues and tumors and

holds clues for how it might work.

UAB Uses New “Trigger Imaging” to Keep Tumor in Target Sight


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A NEW TYPE of “triggered imaging” technol- ogy enables UAB physicians to better target

tumors during radiosurgery and lessens the risk

of injury to surrounding lung tissue.

The new radiosurgery is a focused, highly

targeted, high dose of radiation treatment typi-

cally taking three to five sessions, as opposed to

the 25 to 30 sessions for conventional radiation

therapy. It is used in extremely small, inacces-

sible cancer sites such as those in the brain, lung,

liver and pancreas.

Doctors at UAB used triggered imaging

for the first time in late 2011 when perform-

ing respiratory-gating radiosurgery treatment

for an inoperable early-stage lung cancer case.

Respiratory gating synchronizes the treatment

beam with the patient’s respiration, turning

the beam on and off as the patient breathes to

increase treatment precision. It also can trigger

an imaging system to obtain an X ray of the tar-

geted tumor when the beam is turned on, poten-

tially increasing the accuracy.

“With this technique, we now can monitor the

gating accuracy and ensure that the beam hits

the tumor,” said Richard Popple, Ph.D., associ-

ate professor of medical physics in the UAB

Department of Radiation Oncology. “It will

enable us to monitor tumor position in real time

and intervene if a change in the respiratory pat-

tern causes a shift. The enhanced precision could

potentially increase tumor control and decrease

the amount of surrounding healthy lung tissues

exposed to the beam.”

U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R 23